Stevens: Lobos Hold On To Down Hawaii 35-23 in Mountain West Action

Oct. 14, 2012

New Mexico Lobos 35 Hawai'i Warriors 23

Up Next: New Mexico at Air Force, Saturday

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

The New Mexico Lobos leaned on an early 14-0 cushion, a 76-yard scoring jaunt by Cole Gautsche, several backbreaking plays by the UNM defense, and a gutsy fourth-quarter scoring drive, to post a gut-wrenching 35-23 Mountain West win Saturday night over the Hawaii Warriors.

The Lobos (4-3, 1-1 Mountain) were up 21-0 in the second quarter but had to hold on to fight off the Warriors, who gained confidence as the game progressed.

The Warriors had pulled to 28-23 with 9:49 to play before a B.R. Holbrook-led drive that began on the UNM 25-yard line ended with Holbrook hooking around the Warriors' end from five yards out to seal the Lobos' fourth win of the season.

The drive burned six minutes off the clock and pushed UNM up by two scores with 3:39 to go.

A big play on the drive was a 33-yard pass from Holbrook to Chase Clayton. It was UNM's longest pass completion of the season.

A huge one-two punch by New Mexico was delivered in the third quarter when UNM held Hawaii on a fourth-and-one at the Lobo 5-yard line. A few snaps later Gautsche galloped 76 yards to push UNM up 28-10.

Hawaii's Mike Edwards did return the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a Warrior score, but the damage done inside the UNM red zone was critical.

The Lobos' Joe Stoner also recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter to help the Lobos regain field position and continue to burn precious seconds off the game clock. The change of possession did not lead to a UNM score, but the Lobos burned 2:46 off the clock before Hawaii took over at its 35-yard line.

Hawaii was running out of time, especially if the Warriors could not stop UNM from burning the clock and putting points on the board.

Hawaii did cut UNM's lead to 28-23 before Holbrook led UNM to that 35-13 cushion. That ended it.

Maybe the first-quarter script the Lobos threw out for Texas State wasn't really all that good. The Lobos polished it a bit Saturday night in Honolulu.

New Mexico rolled to a 14-0 lead over Hawaii on an impressive drive followed by a shorter drive set up by a fumble recovery. That's pretty much what the Lobos did in knocking Texas State into the ropes a week ago.

But the statistical whipping the Lobos put on the Warriors in that opening 15 minute was complete domination and surely psychologically damaging to a Hawaii team that came into the game staggering on both sides of the football.

UNM, now 4-3 and 1-1 in the Mountain race, heads to Colorado Springs this coming Saturday to battle an Air Force team that is working its way through a rebuilding year, but coming off a 28-27 win at Wyoming.

The scoreboard domination was the most important aspect of the first quarter, but the way the Lobos ruled the line of scrimmage had to be disheartening for the Warriors. UNM had the ball 13:26 minutes of the first quarter. Hawaii had the ball for 1:34 and had only five yards in total offense.

The Lobos continued to put down the hammer and went up 21-0 early in the second quarter. Hawaii battled to a 21-10 halftime deficit.

Another key series was Hawaii's first of the second half. The Hawaii defense held the Lobos and then Hawaii drove. The Warriors converted a 4th-and-1 at the UNM 16, but failed on a 4th-and-1 at the UNM five.

The Lobos took over on downs. It was the second time Hawaii crashed into the red zone and were turned away with no points. A 12-play, 69-yard drive by Hawaii ended with Warriors frustrated.

It got worse for Hawaii and UNM took over the ball. UNM's Gautsche took the ball to the outside, did not make the pitch, and sprinted 76 yards to up UNM to a 28-10 lead. This was a defense-offense backbreaker type play. Well, normally.

Hawaii turned the tables with a 100-yard kickoff return by Mike Edwards that ended in the UNM end zone. It was 28-17 and the Warriors again had a pulse. That 28-17 lead carried into the final quarter. UNM's Gautsche was injured in the third quarter and was moved into the UNM locker room before that quarter ended. He did not return to the field.

Stoner came up with his fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to thwart a Hawaii drive, but UNM quickly turned the ball back over to the surging Warrior offense. Hawaii rolled 65 yards through the UNM defense to make the count 28-23 - missing on a pass for a two-point conversion with 9:49 to play.

UNM scored with 3:39 to play to go up 35-23.

First half - New Mexico Lobos 21, Hawaii Warriors 10

The Warriors took the opening kickoff, threw three passes, and on their fourth snap boomed a 61-yard punt to the Lobos.

UNM took over at the Lobo 17-yard line and B.R. Holbrook threw five consecutive passes to move UNM down to the Hawaii 23-yard line. UNM then decided to go to its bread-and-butter - a run - and Kasey Carrier scampered in from 23 yards out. The big play before Carrier's run was a 36-yard connection between Holbrook and SaQwan Edwards.

The Lobos had a similarly impressive opening drive last Saturday in University Stadium and then recovered a Texas State fumble to go up 14-0. The Lobos did exactly that in Aloha Stadium when Hawaii's Mike Edwards fumbled on the Hawaii 38 and UNM's Marquis Bundy recovered.

This time the Lobos decided to punch it in behind arguably the most improved offensive line in the nation. The Lobos negotiated the 38 yards in 5:51 to take a 14-0 lead. SaQwan Edwards scored from six yards out.

The drive took 11 plays - 10 on the ground - with Holbrook hitting Quintell Solomon on a 7-yard pass on a 4th-and-3 at the Hawaii 19. Edwards was in the end zone three running plays later.

The Lobos went up 21-0 on a 14-play, 66-yard drive that took 12:24 off the clock. The final 11 plays on that drive came on the ground. Carrier ended the drive from one yard out.

Hawaii finally cracked the UNM defense and reached the Lobo end zone at the 5:55 mark of the second quarter. Schroeder teamed up with Scott Harding on a 51-yard scoring pass. Harding was wide open behind the UNM secondary on the play. Hawaii went 77 yards in five plays.

Hawaii did manage to steal back some momentum in the bottom of the second quarter. A 49-yard field goal by Tyler Hadden with 16 seconds to play made it 21-10 at the half.

A key series in the first half came when Hawaii had a 1st-and-10 on the UNM 14 yard line, but a 15-yard penalty led to a missed 39-yard field goal by Hadden at the 9:53 mark of the second quarter.

The Lobos ended the half with 199 total yards, 87 passing and 112 on the ground. Hawaii's good second quarter helped them to 178 total yards with 101 passing and 77 off the run. UNM was 4-of-9 on third down conversions and Hawaii was 1-of-6. UNM also was 3-of-3 on fourth down conversions and had five tackles for a loss.

The Lobos had 28 running plays and threw 11 passes. Hawaii had 13 plays on the ground and 15 passing attempts. The Warriors averaged 5.9 yards per carry in the first half with Will Gregory picking up 73 on five carries. Carrier had 83 yards on 16 carries for the Lobos. UNM's Lucas Reed had two grabs for 24 yards.

A key series in the first half came when Hawaii had a 1st-and-10 on the UNM 14 yard line, but a 15-yard penalty led to a missed 39-yard field goal by Hadden at the 9:53 mark of the second quarter.